Medvedev calls for control over monastery reconstruction Spending


GORKI, March 4 (Itar-Tass) — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday instructed the board of trustees of the Charity Fund for the Reconstruction of the Voskresensky New Jerusalem Monastery to exert strict control over the fund’s spending.

“Thanks to the support from the state and the Church, all conditions have been created so that the fund could solve any problem in due time,” Medvedev said at a meeting of the board of trustees. “Money is being raised. And expenditures should be strictly controlled, since the money is private donations of our citizens and they must have the right to know where the money goes.”

“I would like to say thank you to all those who has contributed to the monastery’s reconstruction,” he added.

As many as three billion roubles have been allocated to the fund from the federal budget in 2009-2011.

Medvedev also called to “create conditions for normal life” of the monastery dwellers. “It is especially important now when reconstruction works are in full swing,” he noted.

Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill, who also attended the meeting, said the Russian Orthodox Church was set to create an electronic database of archives of the New Jerusalem Monastery.

The results of the archaeological survey conducted in 2009-2010 should be summed up and systematized, he said at a meeting of the board of trustees of the charity fund sponsoring the reconstruction of the monastery. He also suggested a plan of research, including works and financing schedule, should be elaborated.

The ensemble of the monastery has less damaged buildings than its central cathedral, and these buildings need restoration, he said and added that preparatory works at these buildings should be expedited. “They are not unique monuments,” he noted. In his words, it would be expedient to “continue reconstruction of the Resurrection Cathedral and at the same time restore the gate church and the Sunday school building in a faster pace to arrange a normal life at the monastery the soonest possible.”

The board of trustees includes Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill, First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Alexei Kudrin, Minister of Communications Igor Shchegolev, head of Russian Technologies Corporation Sergei Chemezov, governor of the Moscow region Boris Gromov, VTB CEO Andrei Kostin, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller, president of Russian Railways Company Vladimir Yakunin, and the monastery’s abbot Feofilakt.

The New Jerusalem Monastery, also known as the Voskresensky Monastery, is a male monastery located in the town of Istra, Moscow region.

The New Jerusalem Monastery was founded in 1658 by Patriarch Nikon (1605-1681) as a patriarchal residence. This site was chosen for its resemblance to the Holy Land. The River Istra represents the River Jordan, and the buildings represent the “sacral space” or holy places of Jerusalem. In his time, Patriarch Nikon took in several monks of non-Russian origin to populate the monastery, for it was intended to represent the multinational Orthodoxy of the Heavenly Jerusalem. The architectural ensemble of the monastery includes the Resurrection Cathedral (1656–1685), identical to a cathedral of the same name in Jerusalem, Patriarch Nikon’s abode (1658), stone wall with towers (1690–1694), Church of the Holy Trinity (1686–1698), and other buildings.

After the revolution, the New Jerusalem Monastery was closed down in 1919. In 1921, they opened a museum of history and arts and a museum of regional studies in on the premises of the monastery. In 1941, the German army ransacked the New Jerusalem Monastery. Before their retreat they had its unique grand belfry blown up, the towers were demolished, the vaults of the cathedral collapsed and buried its famous iconostasis, among other valuables. Restoration works started in 1947 and in 1959, the museum was re-opened for public, although the monastery has never been fully rebuilt. In 1995, the New Jerusalem Monastery was handed over to the Russian Orthodox Church and resumed its service as a male monastery. In 2002, the World Monuments Fund put the New Jerusalem Monastery on the World Monuments Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites.

On July 23, 2008, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and the then Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia visited the monastery, In October 2008, they organized a Charity Fund for the Reconstruction of the New Jerusalem Monastery, with Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov appointed its head.